Tie-Dye for Lazy People

27 Jun

It’s time to get your craft on!

We’re in the middle of Vacation Bible School week around here, which is all kinds of awesome, although I fall asleep and wake up hearing the theme song, which we sing over and over and over and ironically? That song this week is called “Operation Overboard.”

Tomorrow, the color of the day is orange, which I don’t own a lot of, except for a really big oversized Texas Longhorns shirt that I borrowed stole from my dad several years ago, and it’s not really VBS-worthy.

So, my daughter and I decided to get our craft on and decorate some T-shirts, and I happened on a project for tie-dye using only Sharpies and rubbing alcohol.

I’m a teacher, so I always have Sharpies on hand. And alcohol. JUST KIDDING.

I had to buy some Sharpies.

Anyway, the shirts turned out cute! And it took like 15 minutes and required no clean up. That is MY KIND OF CRAFT.

You will need:

  1. Sharpies in cool colors
  2. An all-cotton T-shirt (these were 4 for $10 at Michaels!)
  3. Rubbing alcohol.
  4. Some cardboard to stick inside the shirt so your designs don’t bleed through.

First, slide the cardboard inside your shirt, and if you’re a Type A person, tape the back of the shirt down so it wont move around on your cardboard. Or skip that.

Then, using the sharpies, make circles from a couple of complementary colors of Sharpies. I used orange and yellow — and later threw in some lime green.

My circles looked like this:

And I scattered them across the shirt in a random pattern like this:

Then, I carefully dripped the rubbing alcohol onto the centers of the designs — it will spread out and dissolve the Sharpie ink. You could use an eye dropper to do this, or, if you are a recycler like me, the straw from your Sonic drink. The more alcohol you use, the wider your design will spread.

If you wanted to add a little science to this, you can explain that the ink from Sharpies is not water-soluble, but it does dissolve in alcohol, so the alcohol will carry the color along with it as it spreads through the fabric.

And you end up with designs like this:

I wanted my circles to stay small. but my daughter went a little crazy with the alcohol-dripping and got some fantastic big circles that looked like fireworks — which would make this a FUN craft for the 4th of July. The first picture shows some of the other color combos we tried — and what happened when I made a heart-shaped center. Adorable, right?

After you finish the shirts, let them dry completely, then tumble them in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat to set the color. LET THE ALCOHOL DRY COMPLETELY BEFORE YOU DO THIS. Alcohol is flammable. But when it has all evaporated and the shirt is dry, you can safely heat it up. You can also set the color with a hot iron. I think the iron method actually sets the color a little better. You may still have some color bleeding — don’t use bleach or stain removing detergent on these shirts.

After you’ve done that, you can launder the shirts as usual. Since Sharpies aren’t water-soluble, the design won’t wash out, and you will have a cool shirt for about $4.

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2 Responses to “Tie-Dye for Lazy People”

  1. Neven June 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Very cool idea, I love lazy crafts. Or lazy anything really.

  2. Bridget Martin Ivey (@IveyLeagueMama) July 4, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    I wish I’d read this before I had 10 small children at my house yesterday! Maybe then I wouldn’t have blue hands. Haha!

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